Do Not Track is apparently dead, and Apple is now taking steps to shed itself of the failed privacy project.
Almost every internet browser has an option in its privacy settings called “Do Not Track,” which, if you turn it on, sends an invisible request on your behalf to all the websites you visit telling them not to track you. It’s been around for years, but as Gizmodo recently reported, it doesn’t do anything because almost no websites actually honor the request not to be tracked because the government never forced them to comply with it.
For that story, we asked all the browser-providing companies why they still had the option, given that it could mislead users into thinking it was actually protecting their privacy.
“I’m curious why Apple continues to offer the option in Safari given its practical ineffectiveness,” I emailed Apple in October in a request for information for that story. The company didn’t respond, but now, it appears it is removing the DNT option from Safari.
As spotted by DuckDuckGo, the release notes for the newest version of Safari say the company has “removed support for the expired Do Not Track standard to prevent potential use as a fingerprinting variable.” In other words, whether or not the DNT signal was being sent it was being used as a way to track people. Irony alert.
Apple’s decision may be in response to the fact that the Do Not Track project quietly ended last month. The privacy option was also redundant now that Apple has a built-in anti-tracker, which blocks cookies and was introduced in 2017.